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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Coming off a surprisingly successful first season in the Big Ten Conference, Rutgers has added depth across the board with a recruiting class of 25 players.
The Scarlet Knights' class Wednesday included one top-ranked recruit in defensive lineman Marques Ford of East Bay High School in Riverview, Florida, and a two players who have a shot to action early — defensive back Blessuan Austin of New York City and linebacker Isaiah Johnson, a California native who enrolled in January.
Coach Kyle Flood also took the advice of fellow Big Ten coaches and added a lot of beef, signing nine linemen.
Picked to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten in its inaugural season, Rutgers went 8-5, winning the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit against North Carolina.
Flood did not stray from Rutgers' traditional recruiting grounds, signing seven players from the Scarlet Knights' home state of New Jersey, six from Pennsylvania, three from New York, four from Florida and two from Maryland.
"I think probably the signature of this recruiting class is going to be how they will add overall depth to our team. We have taken players at every position," Flood said.
The lure of the Big Ten allowed Rutgers to fill needs in states where it normally didn't go — California (Johnson), Illinois (OL Jack Shutack) and Georgia (TE Anthony Folkerts).
Austin, Johnson, defensive lineman Jon Bateky and linebacker Deonte Roberts have enrolled and will take part in the spring practice.
"I think the recruits in our footprint and really nationally are getting to know us as a Big Ten football program and I think the more they got to know us, the more they liked it," Flood said. "I think that's probably why we finished as strong as we did."
Top 25 Class: No
Best in class: Marques Ford, dl, Riverview, Fla.
Best of the rest: Blessuan Austin, db, New York City
Late addition: Jarius Adams, db, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
One that got away: Juwan Johnson, wr, Glassboro, New Jersey. (Brother of former Rutgers star George Johnson; signed with Penn State.)